I like to think that I'm pretty good at communicating with the parents of teens in my youth ministry. I send out a weekly e-mail filled with details about upcoming events. I make sure to include announcements in our Sunday bulletin. I post updates on both Facebook and Twitter. I even write regularly for our congregation's monthly newsletter.
Yet, in the last week, I've been reminded twice that I'm not always as good at this as I like to think I am.
Here's what I mean. In last week's e-mail to parents, I mentioned that we'd begin preparing for Youth Sunday at our next weekly gathering. I promptly got a message back from a freshman parent saying, “What's Youth Sunday?”
I was stunned by this. Youth Sunday - the Sunday each year when our high school teens lead every aspect of worship - is a tradition that began LONG before I arrived in my congregation seven years ago. As a result, I honestly assumed everyone knows what Youth Sunday is. So I didn't bother communicating any basic information about it.
Clearly, I was wrong.
In that same e-mail, I also included a packing list for our high school ministry's winter retreat. I promptly got a response back from the parent of a senior saying, “You usually stop for dinner on the way to the retreat and lunch on the way home but I don't see meal money listed. Do kids not need money this year?”
Oops. In my haste to get the information out, I failed to include this vital piece of information.
I quickly corrected both things. I sent out a packing list addendum and changed my weekly e-mail to include a brief explanation of Youth Sunday.
Because of how simple these things are to fix, it can be tempting to brush communication faux pas off as “no big deal”.
The problem is that communication failures actually are a big deal.